By Emeka Ozumba
There was virtually no dry eye at the re-unification of a lost woman presumed dead thirty-five years ago with her family by the wife of Governor of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano (Osodieme). The remarkable re-union was the highpoint the 2018 International Women’s Day Celebration held Thursday at the Home for Mentally Challenged, Oyi Local Government Area, Anambra State.
The sixty-two year old Mrs. Rose Anene who hails from Umudioka Village Awka reportedly left her home thirty-five years ago following a spell with depression and mental challenge, leaving behind five young children who are now full grown men and women. She was subsequently admitted at the state mental facility in 2004 on transfer from Lagos and later at Home for Mentally Challenged Nteje established in September 2014 by Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) NGO of the wife of Governor, Osodieme, and managed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs.
Speaking at the International Women’s Day event which saw the discharge of twelve inmates made up of eight women and four men, Osodieme expressed delight that the Home is fast realizing its objective with the recovery and discharge of more inmates. Said She:
“By treating and reuniting estranged member of a family we stop the incidence of trauma and ambivalent relationship between them and restore the fabric of the family and by extension that of the larger society. Thus we feel highly elated at the landmark achievement of reuniting twelve of our inmates with their families, especially our dear sister-Rose who is going back home after 35 years of estrangement due to ill-health. ”
Osodieme said that “since inception of this 77-Bed facility in September 2014, we have made tremendous progress treating and rehabilitating over 62 inmates who come from different states in Nigeria including Abia, Ebonyi, Edo, Oyo Anambra etc.” Furthermore, she thanked her husband, the Governor for donating his monthly Salary to support the inmates, and called on others to do same to ensure that the good work is sustained.
Osodieme revealed that the NGO give the inmates proper post recovery rehabilitation by making sure they are meaningfully engaged when they leave the home. She highlighted other projects of CAFÉ which has touched many lives positively across Anambra communities like the eleven houses built for indigent widows, twelve toilets to promote hygiene in rural markets, the training and empowerment of over 3200 women, as well as free cleft lip surgeries for 45 children.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs, Dr. Victoria Chikwelu, recounted the effort and commitment of the wife of the Governor in setting up the home for mentally challenged which she noted has saved many lives, called on ndi Anambra to support her work and that of the Governor.
Dr. Chikwelu, disclosed that Mrs Anene was formerly identified as Yoruba in the home because she spoke only Yoruba, until recently when she recovered and started speaking Igbo. She said that the recovery and remembrance of the husband’s village in Awka by Mrs. Anene happened to the amazement of the officials whom she led to meet her family.
On his part, the Transition Committee Chairman of Oyi local government, Mr. Uche Okafor, lauded the Wife of the Governor for positively affecting lives of the indigent through her CAFE initiatives, and prayed that God may keep her safe for people of the state.
Contributing, the Transition Committee Chairman of Awka South Local Government, Mr. Leo Nwubah, promised to ensure that Mrs Anene is totally reintegrated into the society and ensure she is protected from stigmatization.
In a Vote of thanks dripping with tears, the first son of the woman, Mr. Chukwudi Anene, who was six years old when the mother left, now forty-one, thanked God that he is alive with the siblings to see their mother, and regretted that their father is no more to witness the miracle.
Mr. Anene noted that previous efforts to trace their mother when they grew up proved abortive, and thanked Osodieme for wiping their tears by treating and reuniting them with their mother, and prayed that God will continue to bless her.
Also speaking, Mrs. Anene’s first daughter, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Uzozie, went down memory lane on their ugly experiences without their mother, promising that they will take good care of her to make sure she enjoys the remaining years on earth.
The highpoint of the event was the formal handover of Mrs. Anene to her family and presentation of Sewing machine, some cloths and stipend to enable her start tailoring at home amidst songs of praise to God by friends and well-wishers, as well as dances by the inmates.